Behind the 'Madrassa Hoax'
What a bogus report on Barack Obama reveals about the media food chain
...The pathetic little saga begins on the Web site of Insight Magazine, a scandal sheet connected to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times. On Jan. 17, Insight reported that "Hillary Rodham Clinton's camp" had conducted a background check that found Obama attended a madrassa (religious seminary) when he moved with his mother and stepfather to Jakarta in the late 1960s. The idea, according to Insight, was to show that Obama was deceptive about his "Muslim past." Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson says flatly: "They made it up."
True or not, this bit of grade-school innuendo proved irresistible to Steve Doocy, know-it-all host of "Fox and Friends," Roger Ailes' idea for a right-wing morning chat show. Doocy garbled the story into a reference to Obama "spending the first decade of his life raised by a Muslim father." After John Gibson of Fox repeated this yarn, which managed to slime two campaigns simultaneously, CNN dispatched a reporter to Obama's old school in Jakarta, where he revealed it to be a normal public school with religion classes only once a week and no indication of Wahhabism, the Saudi-inspired extremist philosophy. (Indonesian schools were even more secular 40 years ago than they are today.) The whole underlying tale was untrue...